Why Firing an Employee is Always the Last Resort


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Monday, January 28, 2019

Firing an employee is never a pleasant experience for HR or management teams but sometimes, it’s the only feasible option.

Article 3 Minutes
Why Firing an Employee is Always the Last Resort

Going through a firing process is a difficult and unpleasant task for anyone and sometimes, it's the only scenario you're left with. But why should it be a last resort? Unproductive, tardy or just difficult employees can cost businesses significant amounts of money and stress so why should organizations ensure that they've explored every other option before dismissal?

Why employees need a second chance

Even the most challenging employees can be rehabilitated. Whether this is re-engaging them with the company's objectives and strategy or channeling negative and disruptive behavior into something more positive, poor professionals can be turned around. And there's many reasons why an employer would want to put this time and effort into an employee rather than just cutting ties.

Recruitment is expensive and may not yield a candidate with the skills of your poorly performing worker. When you hired the professional in question, there were reasons why you thought they were suited to the job role and these are unlikely to have completely dissolved. What's more likely is that the employee has become disillusioned with the company or is annoyed at something else. Find out what this is and do your best to resolve it. This way you save on the time, hassle and expense of recruitment, while also getting the best out of an employee that is already familiar with your brand and ethos.

Firing employees is an expensive habit

Firing someone means that you are going to be left under-resourced for a period of time until you find a right candidate to fill the role. You may be left having to pay other employees overtime to make up for the shortfall, get freelancers to step in or even turn down work. Depending on your situation, this can be incredibly expensive, especially if you work within a niche area or demand a very specific candidate.

On top of this initial cost, which will affect you from day one, there's also the associated costs of recruitment, onboarding and training that will need to be given to anyone joining the company. There's also the potential expense of any severance package you may want to offer the individual being dismissed.

For organizations that have been through the firing process a number of times, these costs can be estimated but there are some expenses that are much more difficult. If the employee in question is in a managerial position, there's the cost of the impact their dismissal will have on their team. Even if they aren't directly in charge of others, having a key professional leave suddenly can be negative for an entire department.

You need to give yourself legal protection

Ensuring that employees are given every opportunity to improve is the best way to protect yourselves as an employer. If they've had multiple warnings about their behavior, support and advice on how to rectify the situation, and been allowed time to change, then there is far less chance that they will leave angry and wanting to pursue legal action.

Terminating an employment contract can have a massive impact on the employee's financial situation. This not only means that employers need to be certain that firing a professional  is the only option remaining, but that you can prove the individual has either committed serious misconduct or have been given various opportunities to improve. This means that if an individual feels hard done by and wants to seek revenge through legal action, employers have all the information needed to protect themselves.

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